RaveThe Washington Post... a sprawling, fascinating journey through the dawning decades of the 21st century ... After probing each of these sites through acute observation, extensive interviewing and dogged research, Osnos weaves an intricate tapestry that gradually reveals how Americans experienced the last two decades. Osnos’s depiction most prominently features compelling characters whose lives capture the main points he wants to make about each of his places. Many are memorable ... Although Osnos is at his best as a teller of captivating stories, he does not shy away from probing significant legal and policy changes that enriched Greenwich and impoverished South Chicago and Clarksburg ... Osnos’s keen journalist’s eye is always on the watch for the shocking statistic ... After this jeremiad for a nation in crisis, one wonders how Osnos can possibly suggest a way out. And not surprisingly, given his approach all along, he finds hope in the most American of solutions: initiative by individuals ... somehow, after such a powerful, 400-page disquisition on our nation’s ills, it is hard to believe that will be enough.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewBy following several generations of the Hill family, Sedgewick brings agency to the commodity-centric history that historians often pursue to convey the global dimensions of modern capitalism...But focusing on global capital flows, supply chains, consumer markets and labor mobility can sometimes minimize what Sedgewick reveals so well: the actual choices made by the producers and importers and advertisers who merchandised the goods, the economic and political alliances they forged in the process and the often harsh local consequences of their actions ... As compelling as Sedgewick’s story is, I yearned for him to probe its larger meaning. Was agriculture that struggled to compete abroad doomed to be exploitative locally? What options did the Hills and their compatriots have while still succeeding in world markets? How did first-world consumers contribute to third-world inequity? Sedgewick’s satisfying brew made me thirstier for an even bolder blend.